The secretary of state had invited more than 900 people to his holiday party, although most did not attend out of concerns about the coronavirus.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is under quarantine after coming into contact with a person infected with the coronavirus, the State Department announced Wednesday, just one day after his indoor holiday party that public health officials warned could be a superspreader.
The State Department added that Pompeo has thus far tested negative but would not reveal where or when he was exposed, citing privacy reasons.
"In accordance with CDC guidelines, he will be in quarantine," the State Department said. "He is being closely monitored by the Department’s medical team."
The announcement of Pompeo's exposure follows his holiday party on Tuesday night, which he had intended to be a massive event, with 900 guests invited, even as United States surpassed 300,000 deaths from the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, only 70 guests RSVP'd to the event, with even fewer actually attending. Many cited concerns about the virus.
One diplomat's spouse, who was invited but did not attend, told the Washington Post that "it was a completely irresponsible party to throw."
Although the event planned "to fully enforce social distancing measures at this reception, and face coverings are mandatory for admittance," according to a State Department official, at least one picture of the event showed guests without masks.
Prior to the State Department's event, public health officials like Ian Lipkin, who leads Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity, said he was "flabbergasted" at such an invitation.
"An indoor event of this kind is dangerous on so many levels," he told the Post. "This has all the makings of a repeat of what we saw in the White House Rose Garden following the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett."
Despite his own department's safety guidelines for "non-mission critical events" to be held virtually, Pompeo and his aides planned over a dozen holiday events for December, NBC News noted. The parties invited hundreds of guests.
The invitations alarmed the American Foreign Service, which represents 31,000 foreign service employees, so much that they issued a statement in early December.
"The Department’s leadership has urged embassies and consulates around the world to host only virtual holiday gatherings this year. It is therefore disconcerting to hear of these plans, which not only go against the Department’s own guidelines but also health regulations in Washington, D.C. and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," the service said.
The organization continued: "We urge the Department to reverse course and model responsible behavior in accordance with its own guidelines."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.